A history of uganda
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A History of Uganda. Course Overview. Notes Uganda: The Basic Facts Before European Contact The Colonization Period World War I The Interwar Years and World War II Post World War II and Independence Obote , Amin, and Museveni. Notes. Used 2 texts Not a historian Hard to combine

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A History of Uganda

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A History of Uganda

Course Overview

  • Notes

  • Uganda: The Basic Facts

  • Before European Contact

  • The Colonization Period

  • World War I

  • The Interwar Years and World War II

  • Post World War II and Independence

  • Obote, Amin, and Museveni


  • Used 2 texts

  • Not a historian

  • Hard to combine

  • Not my research

  • Focus on Buganda

  • Somewhat skimpy information on recent times – and little from the 2000s on

Uganda: The Basic Facts

  • Kingdom map

  • General location

  • Overview of geography and climate

  • The Ugandan border, as in many post-colonial nations, is the invention of European colonizers.

  • Unusually, however, is that the border corresponds to ancient kingdoms and political regions; it just smushed them all together.

The Emergence of Kingship

In the Inter-lacustrine Region


  • Combine kinship, exogamy, shared symbols, & rules of solidarity

  • Members dispersed throughout the country

  • Clans do not consist of a true genealogical imprint

  • Social identities that allow one to be situated in relation to others, to find friends everywhere & benefit from their hospitality & support

  • Differs in form in different countries

  • Largely similar across the inter-lacustrine region; the exception is Buganda

  • Buganda:

    • Between 40 and 50 clans – ebika

    • Subclans – masiga

    • Major lineages – mituba

    • Minor lineages - enyiriri

  • Fulfill and integrating function

  • For a long time, the fundamental basis for identity

  • Prominence of the Lungfish Clan (Mmamba clan) – holds many ritualistic & political positions – canoe fleet admiral was from the Mmamba Clan; current Kabaka is from the Mmamba Clan; also Nyika Victor

  • Clans tied to the monarchy / central power

  • Bataka- clan heads – had a protective function, especially in regards to property; as clans dispersed, this became less real

  • Clan sanctuaries

Clan Names and Totems

  • Some names:

    • Nkima – Red-tailed Monkey

    • Mmammba – Lungfish

    • Nte – Cow

    • Ffumbe – Civet Cat (Walusimbi)

    • Nseenene – Grasshopper

  • Clan totems – primary & secondary

  • Clan prohibitions

  • Clan traditional roles

  • Clan mottoes

  • Last name reflects one’s clan: Namutebi belongs only to women of the Mmammba Clan

  • (First name often denotes whether one is Catholic, Protestant, or Muslim; Old Testament and Italian names tend to be Catholic; New Testament & British names tend to be Anglican; etc.)

The Cwezi Myth

  • Cwezi myth – similar origin stories amongst peoples of the inter-lacustrine region

  • Archaeological evidence  the emergence of political poles or centers between the 11th and the 16th centuries  at one point, some sort of somewhat cohesive political identity

  • 18th century – Bunyoro declines & Buganda expands

The Bugandan Origin Story

  • Buganda origin myth – Kintu

    • Placed at the head of around 20 sovereigns

    • That would place him around the beginning of the 13th century

  • See Chretien

Relationship Between the Clans and the Kabaka

  • “…the external origin of these two founders – the sky for Kintu and Kitara for Kimera – instead affirms the superiority of kingship, at the kabaka level, over the power of the clans.”

  • “…kingship emerged through a compromise between a new authority of a strongly religious nature, and a network of influential clans.”

  • Different characters in the origin myth represent different clans

  • Every new kabaka was proclaimed “father of the clan chiefs [sebataka]”

  • Certain clans had roles in the enthronement ceremony (Lungfish (Mmamba), Pangolin, Mushroom, Cercopith Monkey [Nkima = Tim] & Colobus Monkey); other traditional roles related to the monarchy

  • When a kabaka is enthroned, he is “slowly infused” with the force of his father under the supervision of the clan ritualists

  • Less reliance on clans as time goes by

  • Each kabaka belongs to his mother’s clan (opposite for the rest of society), so as to share power, at least symbolically, amongst the different clans (remember, exogamy = you can’t marry someone from your own clan)

  • Most clans in Buganda have had a turn as the Queen Mother / Kabaka’s clanship

  • Ceremonies stooped in the 18th century under the KabakaNamugala

  • Replaced with an initial ritual honoring Kintu on the ritual hill Naggalabi & managed by the Lungfish and Pangolin Clans

  • Milton Obote, the President (read: dictator) in the 1980s abolished the monarchies

  • Came into use again in 1993 when the monarchy was restored

  • “…the royal institution was everywhere embedded in a network that controlled the supernatural, managed by clans whose history went back…” (Chretien, 132)

  • Religion based on Buganda’s version of the Bacwezi cult bolstered kingship but also could be used as grounds to objecting to bad behavior (aka, it was a political “currency”)

  • Later on, after colonization, Buganda’s Christianized elites envisioned the Kabaka as a secular power, and this idea for many years eclipsed the religious dimension of this institution (153)

The Formation of Monarchial States

The Shores of Lake Victoria: The Rise of Buganda

The Functioning of the Monarchy: the Political Capitals

Managing the Kingdoms: Territories, Commands, and Prestations

Colonial Trusteeships and Reconstructions of Tradition

The Search for the “Sources of the Nile”: A British Endeavor

The Christian Missions: Dreaming of a Second Ethiopia

The Colonial Partition: Diplomacy, Cartography, and Local Politics

Opening to the World and an Ecological and Demographic Crisis

The Ugandan Model: Indirect Rule

Uganda: “The Pearl of the Empire”?


World War I and the Invention of Mandates

Dissent and Buganda Separatism

The Closer Union Proposal

The Rise of Nationalism and Independence

1939 - 1963

Regained Independence and the Obsession with Genocide

In General

Uganda: A Republic and Its Kingdoms

1953: The Kabaka Crisis

Museveni’s Regime

Post-WWII Trends in East Africa


World War II and East Africa

Popular Discontent in Buganda

The “Kabaka Crisis”

National Politics & Buganda Separatism

First Elections

Towards Independence

Lukiko Elections in Buganda

General Elections of 1962

The Colonial Economy

Independent East Africa

1960s to 1990s


Independence & Dependency

Economic Dependency

European and Asian Minorities

Closer Union (Again)

Dominance of Kenya

The East African Community (EAC)

In Summary

Cooperation & Conflict w/ Buganda

Political Turmoil & the Kabaka’s Downfall

Uganda’s New Republic

Obote’s Fall and the Amin Dictatorship

Post-Amin Uganda

Uganda’s Foreign Affairs

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